A server responsible for maintaining a list of mappings between NetBIOS computer names and network addresses for a network that uses NetBIOS as its naming service.
A computer registers itself with the NetBIOS name server upon startup by providing the name server with its computer name and network address. When the computer needs to communicate with a remote machine, it queries the name server for the network address of the remote machine.
Names can also be resolved by using broadcasts, but this is more wasteful of network bandwidth than use of a dedicated name server.
On a Windows NT–based network, an enhanced form of NetBIOS name servers called Windows Internet Name Service (WINS) servers are used. WINS is a NetBIOS over TCP/IP (NetBT) mode of operation defined in Request for Comments (RFC) numbers 1001 and 1002 as p-node. WINS servers can also be used on Windows 2000–based networks, but the primary mode of name resolution for Windows 2000 is the Domain Name System (DNS).